Picture Ledge (Beginner Project - Ten Dollars for Full Length Shelf)

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:21
Difficulty
Starter Projects
| Print this plan

You can build your own picture ledge for about a DOLLAR a foot.  This easy to build picture ledge tutorial requires NO cutting and basic tools.  Paint or stain any color your choose.  Thousands of people have built this shelf and you can too!  

picture ledge with photo display
picture ledge with books in kids room

Reader submitted photo by Katie Garber

 

Need an inexpensive and beautiful way to display books, photos, decor or more on your walls?  Our famous $10 picture ledge shelves are easy to build (you can even build these without cutting a single board!), can be built in any length, and are easy to hang! 

What You'll Need

  • Off the shelf pine boards available at any home improvement store
  • Drill (used to build and hang the shelves)
  • Screws (used to build and to hang the shelves)
  • Paint or stain
  • Level is recommended for hanging the shelves
  • A stud finder is recommended for locating the studs in the wall to hang the shelves on

If you want to customize the overall length of the shelves, you'll also need a tape measure and any saw that can cut wood (this includes a handsaw).

 

But I'm Not Handy

These picture ledge shelves have been built thousands of times, by beginners everywhere.  In fact, we recommend this project as your first project because it is SO easy and SO affordable!  Our step by step tutorial makes it easy. 

YOU can do this!

 

Reader Submitted Photos from Our Picture Ledge Tutorial

Here's a few different versions of our picture ledge, submitted by readers, and used in different ways.

Book ledges by Crisaphi

Reading nook by karahart

Rustic Stain by a.stauff

Easy Picture Ledge Tutorial

 

 

Dimensions
picture ledge
You can customize to any length that you want.
Avoid going to short (less than 24") because it may be hard to find a stud in the wall)
You can also make the shelf deeper by simply replacing the bottom 1x3 board with a 1x4, 1x6 or 1x8 board

Preparation

Shopping List

For (1) 8 foot long gallery ledge

  • 2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
  • 1 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
  • For every foot of shelving, you'll need about (3) 2" wood trim screws (like these that also include the drill bit)

What Type of Wood?

  • The least expensive is pine furring strips (about $2 for a 1x3 and $1 for a 1x2) and will paint just fine and stain to that rustic look everyone is after these days
  • You can use a select pine or hardwood board as well if you are trying to match other woodwork in your home or are looking for a more refined look
  • I don't recommend MDF as it doesn't have much structural integrity
Cut List

For 8 foot long shelving, NO cuts are necessary.

For shorter shelves, simply cut 

  • 2 - 1x3 @ desired length of shelving
  • 1 - 1x2 @ desired length of shelving

EXAMPLE: For 36" long shelves, you would cut two 1x3 @ 36" and 1 - 1x2 @ 36"

Tools
Tape Measure
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Drill
Circular Saw
Level

Instructions

Step 1

Attach the two 1x3 boards together with 2" trim screws, about every 12".  

Step 2

Attach the 1x2 to the front, with the 2" trim screws.

If you have a brad nailer, 1-1/4" brad nails and glue can also be used and will be easier to finish than screws.

  • For a painted finish, fill the screw or nail holes in the front 1x2 only with wood filler.  Let the wood filler dry and then lightly sand any excess off.  Then paint as desired.
  • For a stained finish, lightly sand the project.  Then apply wood stain of your choice.  Then use a stain matched wood filler to fill any holes.

Step 3

Locate studs in the wall with a stud finder.

Mark with a pencil.

Place the picture ledge up on the wall at the desired location and screw through the back 1x3 into the studs in the wall.

  • At least two screws are needed to hang the picture ledge.
  • One screw per stud in the wall
  • If only one stud behind the picture ledge, than use two screws to attach to the one stud
Help Improve This Plan

We apologize if there was an error in this plan. Please help us out and report any errors here.

Comments

PMSandaGun (not verified)

Tue, 03/01/2011 - 05:34

Would using the Kreg jig to secure the bottom to the back be overkill? I just want to make sure they're sturdy enough for some heavier items like coffee mugs and a slate tile I carved...and framed with a modified plan from here!

Joel Seltmann (not verified)

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:44

Something else that is fun to do is to take the extruded PVC rain guttering, cut them from 24" to 48" long, pop-rivet the end caps on, screw them to your kids wall with some dry wall screws and washers, and use them to display large picture books!....Something to get your kids interested in reading by having the books displayed!

Alan Jones (not verified)

Tue, 03/22/2011 - 12:50

Red Picture Rails!These are two 8' picture rails. My wife loves to have pictures on the wall, but I hate all the nail holes, so this is a perfect solution. She can rearrange to her heart's content.
They are painted the same red as the highlight wall color in our den.

k.holohan

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:06

i just made these today... although theyre not put together yet i already LOVE them! i made 3 of them all different sizes 24, 32, 40 very easy i only needed 2 of the 1x4's 8ft long and a 1x2 also 8ft long. great project i cant wait to start on some more! i have too many ideas now youre webiste is great!

Pookie's Mama (not verified)

Sun, 03/27/2011 - 20:08

I'd been trying to find some cool spice shelves to pop on the outer side of some kitchen cabinets to keep spices close and handy and organized.  All the things I found, that I liked, were either too small or I'd have to spend WAY over $100 for just a few!

How great is this!  I'll be able to custom fit them, pop a little piece on the side and hang them up with as much verticala space as I need between them!  No more "STUFF" all over the counter!  I may even may a small one with little knobs on the bottom to store near the stove top for the frequently used stuff!

WooHoo!  Thanks, Ana.  Glad I found you!  Will get these built after I finish working on my raised garden bed boxes. 

No cedar fence posts at blue here in NC in 2011, but will use some nice Southern Yellow Pine, lots of it available, and I'll raise it up on some pressure treated posts so I don't have to be down low -- bit of trouble with that, but hey, I've learned to walk again, so who knows, with a few more veggies maybe I'll be able to scoot around low and manage a semi-raised box sooner than I imagine!  The height should keep the termites away too! 

Love the idea that someone made with the high raised box, what a great way to do my herbs! 

Working the square garden concept, but with help from people like Emily at http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net, and you, I'm sure to get there soon. 

Thanks for sharing!

Pookie's Mama (not verified)

Sun, 03/27/2011 - 20:08

I'd been trying to find some cool spice shelves to pop on the outer side of some kitchen cabinets to keep spices close and handy and organized.  All the things I found, that I liked, were either too small or I'd have to spend WAY over $100 for just a few!

How great is this!  I'll be able to custom fit them, pop a little piece on the side and hang them up with as much verticala space as I need between them!  No more "STUFF" all over the counter!  I may even may a small one with little knobs on the bottom to store near the stove top for the frequently used stuff!

WooHoo!  Thanks, Ana.  Glad I found you!  Will get these built after I finish working on my raised garden bed boxes. 

No cedar fence posts at blue here in NC in 2011, but will use some nice Southern Yellow Pine, lots of it available, and I'll raise it up on some pressure treated posts so I don't have to be down low -- bit of trouble with that, but hey, I've learned to walk again, so who knows, with a few more veggies maybe I'll be able to scoot around low and manage a semi-raised box sooner than I imagine!  The height should keep the termites away too! 

Love the idea that someone made with the high raised box, what a great way to do my herbs! 

Working the square garden concept, but with help from people like Emily at http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net, and you, I'm sure to get there soon. 

Thanks for sharing!

Jamie O'Neal (not verified)

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 16:05

I was given a few Pottery Barn ledges that I love but are too wide and this is the perfect solution!  I love working with my hands and have fallen in love with your site!  I will be back every day to see what's new!!

Lorena (not verified)

Sat, 04/23/2011 - 08:42

I have been wanting to do this project since I first saw it, and yesterday I finally did. I'm a compete newbie with woodworking, but it was so easy. The parts that took the longest were waiting for the paint to dry and finding the studs in my wall.

Miriam Green (not verified)

Thu, 05/19/2011 - 10:46

I have been scouting magazines and websites for these type of ledges, but had yet to purchase because it seemed crazy to pay so much for such simple construction! Your plans are even simpler than I had guessed!! I'm making these this weekend for my children's room. Thanks so much!